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With the announcement that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Pope
Benedict XVI, Marktl am Inn changed from a sleepy little Bavarian village to an active
center of world media attention.
Marktl am Inn - Birthplace of Benedict XVI.
At 5.20pm on April 19th, 2005 Markt Marktl was still a quiet
little village of only 2,700 inhabitants on the River Inn, in Bavaria (Germany); that not
many people had heard of and probably never thought of making a pilgrimage to in their
The quaint little church still had a tribute to the late Pope John
Paul II beneath the pulpit; although the recently deceased Pontiff never actually visited
Tribute to Pope John Paul II in Marktl village church.
The church was empty and, due to the persistent drizzle, so was the
main street (Markt Platz).
Markt Platz -- Marktl Am Inn.
A picture postcard Bavarian village, Marktl has a couple of
interesting murals painted on the walls of the Apotheke (Chemist) and Rathaus (Town Hall),
both on Markt Platz.
Marktl Chemist with village church in background.
Mural on Marktl Rathaus (Town Hall).
There's even a pleasantly laid out Heimat Museum, presenting old
farming tools and other memorabilia related to the history of life in a small village,
spread out over 11 small rooms.
Early painting of Marktl village -- in the Heimat Museum.
At the end of Markt Platz, 11 Schulstrasse contains a plaque
proclaiming that the Cardinal, Dr. Joseph Ratzinger was born in the house on 16th April,
Birthplace of Joseph Ratzinger - Pope Benedict XVI.
The village's famous son had recently held the funeral Mass for Pope
John Paul II, in Vatican City and was at that very moment sitting in Conclave; to help
decide who would become the 265th Pope; 264th successor to Peter.
Cardinal Ratzinger was considered among the front runners himself, but
only a TV crew from Bayerische Rundfunk had established themselves in a car park behind
the Town Hall. There was a camera mounted in front of the Rathaus and a television screen
on a stool showed live pictures from Rome. No-one paid much interest.
Another camera team from Munich were taking stills of the ghostly
village while the NBC reporter they accompanied stationed himself in the local Gasthaus;
watching the images from Rome, with a few locals in the warm.
At around 5.50pm, the BR technicians, watching live pictures from Rome
in one of the vans, saw smoke rise on their monitors. It looked grey, seemed to go darker
but slowly lightened.
Bayrische technician in Marktl watching live pictures from Rome.
The smoke turned towards white. There was a tense silence. Then the
sound of bells from The Vatican rang out.
A few people had by now gathered in front of the Rathaus to watch the
small television there.
The wait for the announcement of who the new Pope actually was, seemed
like an eternity.
Then the village church bell chimed and Marktl's famous son appeared
on the Vatican balcony, as Benedict XVI.
Two women hugged each other with delight as hasty celebrationary
preparations had to be made.
First Celebrations in Marktl - Cardinal Ratzinger is the 265th Pope.
The flowers and red drapery previously used as a tribute to Pope John
II, in the village church, were brought out and set up in front of the Rathaus; with
Ratzinger's house of birth in the background.
A photograph of Cardinal Ratzinger was then presented and hung up
Women of Marktl provide the finishing touches to their Benedict XVI tribute.
A couple of freelance photographers appeared as smiling children with
small, yellow and white Vatican flags congregated beneath the picture of Joseph Ratzinger.
Children of Marktl with Vatican flags.
More people arrived with umbrellas, while the BR reporter waited to
interview the Bürgermeister (Mayor) of Marktl; before other television crews appeared on
the scene. He was out of luck.
The Mayor of Marktl, Hubert Gschwendtner, eventually strode forward,
to read out a moving speech to the gathered crowd and news media.
Bürgermeister Hubert Gschwendtner -- Live from Marktl.
The small streets of Marktl were now closed off to traffic by local
firemen, as the village didn't have any police.
Marktl street closed off by firemen.
After the Bürgermeister's speech, there was a traditional Bayern gun
salute, outside the church, before the townsfolk crowded into the small church for Mass.
Traditional Bayern gun salute, outside the church in Marktl.
First Mass in Marktl, For Benedict XVI.
An evening of free beer and Bavarian music then followed the Mass.
Before Benedict XVI had even held his first Mass in The Vatican, the
village of Marktl experienced its first taste of the world attention to follow.
News media from neighbouring countries descend on Marktl.
Television crews and reporters from neighbouring countries swarmed
into Markt Platz with their satellites and then set about photographing the font used to
baptise the young Joseph Ratzinger (now in the Heimat Museum) as well as the new Papal
creations by the local baker and butcher.
Television crews in the Marktl Heimat Museum.
Journalists from the UK's Guardian and Telegraph newspapers signed
their names in the Museum's guestbook as we were leaving, while those from further afield
were no doubt still on their flights to Munich.
Marktl font where Joseph Ratzinger was baptised in 1927.
It was hoped that the new Pope's brother would pay a visit to the
village in the evening, as Marktl am Inn became a sought out name on the world map.
Once the media circus has packed up and gone, it is expected the
pilgrims will start to arrive in Marktl am Inn, to visit the birthplace of Benedict XVI.
Marktl is best reached by car along the Munich to Passau B12,
where the road meets the B20, at the River Inn.
The Gasthof Altenbuchner (tel: 08678/249) is located on the bank of
the River Inn, just over the bridge from Marktl, at Burghauser Str. 10.
There's also a small railway station on the other side of the village,
where the 14-room Gasthof Pension Hummel is
conveniently located. The restaurant there is closed on Tuesdays but there's an Italian
restaurant close by.
If rooms are full in Marktl, you could try the Gasthaus Bonimeier, in nearby
When we were there, the local tourist information service was set up
in the lobby of the local Gasthaus, next to the house where Benedict XVI was born. They
had a map of the area and a few leaflets about local accommodation.
Marktl is also situated on the Inntal-Radweg (650km cycle route from
the source of the Inn, near St. Moritz in Switzerland, to where the river joins the Danube
at Passau) so you may want to reserve your rooms in advance, if you intend to spend the
On February 28th, 2013 at 8pm Roman time, Pope Benedict XVI
officially stepped down as Pope and kicked off his red shoes in Castel Gandolfo.
Popes Resignation The End of Marktl As a Tourist Destination?
Directory of travel tweeps on Twitter.
The official website of Marktl am Inn.
A look back at the travels of Pope John Paul II.
Official website of the Holy See.
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